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Sinifying New Spain: Cathay's Influence On Colonial Mexico Via The Nao De China

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Chapter Summary

Scholarship on the Asian diaspora in Latin America has been plagued by incontrovertible weakness: an appalling lack of research on the "first-wave" of migration. This chapter exposes the process of sinification that impacted colonial Mexico on many levels, focusing on Chinese and mestizo immigrants as well as the lucrative trade relations that bound New Spain and China together. One of the issues to be addressed is how and when the Chinese actually set foot in Latin America, and how they adapted to the socio-cultural reality of New Spain. Another issue examined is the impact of Chinese exports on the daily lives and economic activity of colonial Mexico's inhabitants over the 250 years of transpacific exchange through the "frontier funnel" of Manila. Thirdly, a genealogical analysis of term chino/a will illuminate the internal dynamics of New Spain's society that would all but obscure its Asian heritage by the early 18th century.

Keywords: Chinese exports; colonial Mexico; early 18th century; Latin America; New Spain

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